A new WEA branch in Northolt, West London, is helping members of the Nepalese community learn English and other vital skills.
The Northolt Thanti Branch was set up by Sanat Gurung (pictured on the right), a bus driver working at Greenford Bus Depot, who is the chair of the new branch.
Sanat saw the work undertaken at his workplace by Everton Herbert (on the left), a Unite Union Learning Representative, to put in place learning opportunities for employees. This inspired him to find out how that engagement could be replicated within the Nepalese community.
There are about 6,000 members of the Thanti Nepali Sarmaj Community across West London. Many work within the local security, retail, public transport and hospitality sectors. Due to the nature of their work and often unsociable hours, it can be challenging for them to develop their potential and progress in their careers. Another major challenge is that a large proportion of the women within this community are housewives - many of whom feel socially excluded, often due to a lack of English.
Everton and Sanat agreed to work towards delivering a community learning project aimed at addressing skills for life, active citizenship and professional development. The WEA was identified as the education provider, meetings were held and learning needs surveys carried out. A learning centre based in Northolt was chosen as the location for classes to take place; after two months there were already over 120 Thanti members enrolled on courses, including fifty on ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languagues) courses.
Sanat said: "This has been a dream for me and the community, we have been overwhelmed by the response from our members. Once the ESOL courses are fully established, we hope to provide further courses in IT, knowing your rights at work, health and safety at work and work-related qualifications. None of this would have been possible without the help of the Unite rep Everton and the WEA."